Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's Like Pharrel Just Skipped To The End of the Movie.

As predicted, I completely forgot or stopped caring about my plans to do an entire week of Restaurant reviews.  I blame this partially on the onset of my Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is defined by the first two sentences of wikipedia (yes that's all I read....this points to a larger problem in my life) as a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.  Such is the case after days and days of cold blizzardy snow here in the Denver area, my SAD disposition is in full effect, much like Reggie's band.  (anyone?)

The cause of this uncurable disease?  See for yourself:

Yeah, I know, pictures of snow.  SO original.

Of course, I have tried to combat the SAD with all the typical methods of coping.

1.  Invited friends to visit.  Most of you who follow my antics on facebook know that a large family of Cubans immigrated to Denver for a few days (potentially illegally.)  I kept "tabs" on them using the hashtag #CubanVacation.

Their first taste of snow over (literally, they kept tasting the snow), it quickly became a tiring experience for these two young kids.

Based solely on those pictures you'd think these kids were miserable.  Sure one had two shattered ear drums, but honestly, they had a lot of fun.  Or maybe they too suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  One day somebody will run for the cure for this horrible disease.

2.  Looked to religion.  Oftentimes, when we are at our worst, we seek the advice of God or God's disciples to allieve us of our grief.  I went a different route, and tried to BE Jesus.

I walked on water....(see what I did there?)

3.  Tried to better myself with Arts and Culture.  I don't even know how to explain what this was, but I'll try my best.

At a strange art event in Denver, I and a friend enjoyed free drinks and strange but enchanting performance art.  The most interesting piece was the overarching theme depicting the struggle between Art and Southwest Airlines.  An age old conflict. 

First, Art appeared:

Then, Art got mounted by Southwest Airlines, in a hostile takeover attempt:

But then Art starting fighting back, and this weird non-symbiotic relationship happened:

Eventually, Art won, and humanity lost:

4.  Sorry that last one was long.  Another step combat SAD (yeah that's what this post is still about), is the tried and true practice of summoning spirit animals to disrupt your Dim Sum lunch outing:

I was horrified by that last picture of the remains of that child in the lion's mouth until somebody explained that it was just a costume.  These guys pretending to be a dragon were really bad at hiding.

5.  Last but not least, I tried getting a pet:

But like everything else (cue violins), they left me.

Maybe I'll ask one of their understudies if they want to be my pet.

Alas, none of these things, nor the intermittent sunshine have done enough to alleiviate my SAD.  So finally, I turned to the one place, who's warm comforting embrace, and unconditional acceptance has always brought me out of my funk.  Of course, I'm talking about television, and it's many wonders.  One such wonder is a movie I recently saw called Hector and the Search for Happiness.  It stars Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, and Rosamund Pike, of Gone Girl infamy.  The movie is about a psychiatrist named Hector who realizes that he is not happy and therefore can help others become happy.  He sets off on a whirlwind tour of the world searching for happiness.  All of this you could have determined just from the title.  So basically I've provided you zero information.  I think I liked it so much because it's an introspective yet campy rom-com of sorts, that finds lessons or truths about how to be happy, in every one he meets.  Basically, I think he's saying Happiness is other people.  And from somebody who's being reclusive and suffering from SAD...

...well I just think that's funny.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Restaurant Week - Day 1 (No Not THAT Restaurant Week)

So apparently my last post on this blog was my 200th post.  Rather than commemorate the event, I wrote a post about getting a chair stuck in my car, which I feel like is true to form for this blog.  Also, I wrote significantly less posts last year (only 56) compared to the year this all started (139) so I should have hit 200 quite a long time ago.  But here we are, Post 201, so what can we do to make this blog all fresh and new?  THEME POSTS!

You may recall that Wednesday or Thursday was supposed to be take your questions day, but since nobody ever once wrote me a question, I've decided it's up to me to come up with new and interesting things to talk about.  So for the next blog week (different from a regular week since i don't post every day), I am dedicating this post to reviewing restaurants that I've been to over the years.  Keep in mind that I may get bored of doing that before the blog week is over.....or before this post is over given the tangential rants I tend to go on when I write.  But for now, enjoy this first installment of:

(I deleted 3 other better titles for that much more clear one.)

Le Bouchon Du Grove - Coconut Grove, Miami, FL.

Hidden between the Biscayne Bay and Highway United States 1, nestled amongst the old, large banyan trees lies historic Coconut Grove.  It's discovery a mystery, it was named by somebody who, much like Christopher Columbus, was probably lost and thought he found coconuts.  This small area of shops, bars and hotels is more a collection of tarnished dreams and a wasted youth, spawned by its proximity to the El Universidad de Miami, a private institution that requires much more money to teach you how to be a douche than other schools around the State.  I myself partook in many a late, drunken night when the bars were still open until 5 AM.  Of course this was in my youth, (2006), when I was carefree and the world was in front me.  Age and experience matured me and in my later years (2006 and a 1/2) I sought the ambiance of a decidedly more sophisticated crowd.  That's how, one late Saturday morning, I found myself entering Le Bouchon Du Grove, which literally means THE Bouchon Du Grove.  A french restaurant through and through, Le Bouchon Du Grove is an eye-catching restaurant along a strip of other shops and restaurants on the main drag of Coconut Grove.  Away from the monstrosity that is CocoWalk, and the touristy spots that surround it like Johnny Rockets, Le Bouchon Du Grove is a sly wink and a welcome nod to anyone who would take but a pause and look into the wonderfully kitschy decor within.  And with big beautiful windows that open, allowing small bistro tables to nearly spill out into the street, it's a wonder anyone wouldn't stop there. 

To understand this restaurant you must know that it attacks and fills all five of your senses.  The first sense to fall to its charms is the visual.  As you cross the black and white checkered threshold of the foyer of the restaurant (don't walk too far or you'll enter the college night favorite Sandbar), you enter into a chaotic scene of clustered tables, waiters maneuvering around families and strollers, and decor on the wall that reminds you that THIS IS A FRENCH RESTAURANT, in the same way that Applebees reminds you that THIS IS A GIANT CLUSTER OF CRAP WE FOUND AT ROSS.  The owner, who often acts as maitre'd escorts you to a small table where you squeeze in since there's typically no room to move your chair out with how many people are inside.  If it sounds awful, it's not.  While most American restaurants promote big booths or long tables, there's something about sitting in the middle of a busy restaurant amongst like-minded people that just makes it ok.  Not to mention, it's only a matter of a few minutes before the waiter comes by with mimosas and fresh bread and homemade rasberry jam.  That jam, oh man.  That jam.  On hot fresh baked bread, a smell which wafts out of the kitchen the moment you sit down.  And what to order at such a place?  The only thing I'd ever suggest are the banana pancakes, which really are light and airy, banana filled crepes, because that sounds more French than pancakes. 

But my favorite part of this restaurant has nothing to do with the food or the decor.  It is the staff.  Attentive? Not really.  Friendly? Hardly.   But isn't that what makes them so perfectly French?  They are authentic, and in a city of half-assery, finding an authentic table to eat at is something you just can't pass up.  Whether it's the fact that when Katy Perry comes on the radio, they crank it up and start passing out mimosas, much to the horrified patrons who are being ear raped by it, or when they laughed at my brother for falling from his chair, and refusing to bring him a knife because he just couldn't be trusted, or even when they are probably mumbling under their breaths that the restaurant is filled with "Les fat Americans!", the staff complete an experience that is wholly wonderful.  I suppose this restaurant is really meant for those of you, like me, that are willing to let a restaurant take you on an Epcot ride like journey to another country.  If you're not like that, Johnny Rockets is literally around the corner you jackass.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ambition Leads to Raising Hitler From the Dead

I've never considered myself somebody with a lot of ambition.  Saying that makes society think I'm just really lazy and don't care or think about long term things.  That's so not true.  According to my very scientific search for a definition of ambition, yahoo (yes that Yahoo!) states that ambition is an eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power.  I guess I don't care about having fame, and I wouldn't know what to do with power, besides sit in a really ostentatious high backed chair and stroke a cat.  Plus it would obviously go to my head and then I'd have to learn how to get nuclear weapons, and that all just sounds so ambitious.

Anyways, it's not that I'm that lazy, or that I have no long term goals or desires, it's just that when things get a little bit hard, I tend to hit the reset button on whatever project I'm in.  Other people might call that quitting.  So be it.  Take last Friday for example.  A friend of mine from work convinced me that I had the mental and physical capacity to make a simple looking bench for my front porch, like this:

Well, my "full of self confidence" self decided to go to Home Depot and get the materials on that fine day to construct such bench.  Please sit back and let me describe my 4 step failure in this endeavor.

Step 1:

I couldn't find a cheap, small can of cement paint.  The 4x4s I need for this project all looked warped and termitey, and the cinder blocks looked like somebody took a hammer to them.  Also, cinder blocks are heavy, and the thought of having to apply multiple coats of paint to 12 cinder blocks sounded awful.  So after about 10 minutes of starting this project, I qui....I hit the reset button, and decided to just buy a bench instead.

Step 2:

The one bench Home Depot had on display (I mean it is still February) was $200 and that's dumb.  So in the end I decided, instead a nice DIY porch bench pictured above, I would just buy two cheap stackable chairs and call it a day.

Step 3:

In 2007, Honda increased the chassis on their Accord model sedan, which moved it from an intermediate size car to a full size car.  The larger model has allowed it compete with luxury sedans, and gives drivers the enhanced ability to constantly scrape curbs with the front bumper.  Apparently, this did not matter when it comes to getting chairs into said full size vehicle.  The two chairs were not getting into the car in any configuration.  Finally I decided I would put them in one at a time.  But after getting one in there, there was no way for me to move it to get the second chair in the car.  After all this wasted time and energy, I decided to just reset once more and return the chairs.

Step 4:

The piece de resistance of course......I couldn't get the damn chair out of my car.  It took another 15 minutes plus a couple employees just staring at me as I tried to get the chair out to finally release it from my car's icy grip.  When i went in to return the chair, the lady at the counter just said, "wouldn't fit huh?"

The rest of the weekend went off without a hitch.  An unplanned art walk (read:  We didn't bother checking if that was going on) popped up during happy hour that evening and a few extra glasses of free booze were had by all.  Some how that night ended with electroshock therapy.......art.  I can't explain it but maybe that's what makes it art.  Also this happened inside of a chocolate shop.  Maybe I did have a few too many glasses of wine that night.

I also had a much needed win in making poha for the first time.  Poha is an indian breakfast dish made with flattened rice and a bunch of other good stuff.  Following the recipe to the tee, I made what can only be described as a butt load.

Finally, I'd just like to bring up a pretty important topic that I read about the other day.  Sure, we're all fascinated by these stories of Ebola and the recent measles outbreak (17 states and counting!), but there are other things happening in the medical profession that warrant our immediate attention.  Of course, I'm referring to doctors who are raising the dead.  In a recent article from the BBC, doctors in Tucson, Arizona have found a way to preserve a body with salt water after draining the body of all its blood, which can then be reanimated with new blood later.  This procedure allows the doctors extra time to complete whatever surgery or other diabolical plan they've concocted.  While this seems like a great discovery in the field of emergency medicine, where time really is a key factor, there are several risks with this procedure.  As we all know, bringing somebody back from the dead typically comes with the risk of also bringing back some sort of demon or inter-dimensional being that has latched on to the dead human's spirit in a yet to ever be explained place.  According to all the documentaries on the subject, the doctors who perform this are always so over confident that they don't even plan for this event.  A prior documentary from the 1980s had warned us that any kind of spirit or demon management should be contained with plasma rays and an ecto-cooler.  There is a complete analysis of this in the highly acclaimed The Ghostbusters series from that time period.

Another colleague of mine pointed out that evil doers could use this technology to preserve the lives of some of history's most treacherous villains, like Adolf Hitler.  Can you imagine a modern day Hitler roaming the streets?  Of course with that old military uniform and short mustache, he'd probably just get mistaken for a hipster and his capture would be easy.  You'd find him waiting for a 7 minute pour over non GMO organically grown free trade immigrant college program coffee.  I would also contend that charismatic speakers like Hitler could never really gain a true following nowadays, in the modern age of the internet.  Any speech posted on to the web would be found by the legions of internet trolls that would leave comments like:

TrueBlood69 says:  First!
HonkyTonkyMonky says:  Second!
OsamaNotObama says:  It's because of the liberal media!
Omnicron626 says:  whatever n00b
Scuba Steve says:  Gay.  Hitler is Gay.

And thus the movement would fizzle before it ever began.  Much like this post.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Denver Omlette's 2015 Guide to International Travel

According to Saveur magazine, a flavorless magazine of zero substance, I am a food blog is the best food blog of 2014.  Don't try to click on that.  I didn't link it because despite having nice graphics and great pictures (something somebody else probably manages because it's all about the clicks and site visits these days), it's actually a pretty shit blog.  Lots of recipes you'll probably never make.  Oh sure they sound enticing.  Banh Mi Tacos.  Breakfast Taquitos.  All sound lovely, but when you click on them they're either so basic you're pissed you thought you needed a recipe for it, or too complicated (aka can't be done in 28 minutes.)  28 minutes is my limit for cooking on a weeknight.  Anything else has to be for a party (see previous super bowl post) or during some iteration of Wine Wednesday, a tradition started by a friend and me in Miami, to make dinner before watching an episode of LOST.  Wednesday is no longer a practical day for us to cook elaborate meals anymore, mostly because those nights ended up with us being really drunk, but it's changed it's name quite a few times.  Tasty and Thirsty Thursdays....Foodie Fisted Fridays, Moons Over My Mondays (that's not real, but I wish it was!)  These meals tend to be pretty elaborate, and are eaten over courses, as opposed to my normal one bowl weeknight meal.  I really do try and stay true to the one bowl concept.  If I don't have ingredients to cook anything simple, then that one bowl is cereal.  Which, to be fair, is way underrated as a dinner option.  You got all your essential vitamins and minerals, milk to help you sleep, and it's easy to balance while watching last night's episode of The Mindy Project on your DVR.  I don't know who decided cereal had to be for breakfast.  Who makes these decisions!?

On another blog I found today that actually IS good, this lady talked about how this respected writer she trusts wrote some hot garbage about how no matter where you travel in the world, you should always eat breakfast that reminds you of home.  Basically, go to china, but demand eggs and bacon.  Go to Peru, but demand a cheese danish or an egg mcmuffin.  come on people.  This is the worst advice any travel writer can ever give.  This is worse than the 2014 book of best travel writing stories that suggests traveling anywhere in the world basically sucks.  Seriously, that's the gist of that book.  Where did all this hatred towards an open perspective come from?  We are building a wall.  A wall that will prevent us from ever seeing the GREAT wall, which if you're going to build a wall, you really should use as a model right?

We must combat this closing of our mental borders.  We have to establish life rules to ensure that a road trip from Pennsylvania to Texas isn't the end all be all of our travels.  I hereby declare these rules to be set in stone when you span across our country's border into a new and yet unknown place.

1.  Eat everything.  The street foodier the better.  You will get suck probably at least once, but better to have experienced real authentic food, than suffer the bland tastelessness of eating the same old airport quality chicken tenders everywhere you go.

2.  Drink the local alcohol.  It's alcohol not water, so no montezuma's revenge here.  If you're throwing up later it's for a completely different reason.  You can't go to Peru or Chile and not try pisco.  You can't go to South Korea and not have 10 glasses of soju.  Good, bad or indifferent, at least try it all.  Hell, sometimes it doesn't even have to have alcohol.  Look at this monstrosity we had in Chile last year:

It wasn't fantastic but I'm a better man for trying it.  Trust me.

3.  Put the guidebook down.  I'm sure the history of that museum of some dead general is really interesting.  And I'd love to hear all about how many slaves died building it, but tell me later.  Hell, that's what wikipedia is for.  So I can sound smart and pretentious at parties later on when i'm recapping my trip.  When I'm actually there, I just want to absorb it.  Look, feel, listen, (but don't taste you sicko.)

4.  Pick up a couple phrases, but don't pretend to be an expert.  Even if you do know the language well, don't be a douche who acts like they are from there.  You seriously only ever need to learn 3 words in any language.  Beer.  Bathroom.  US Embassy.  Usually in that order.  Don't be that a-hole that thinks they don't have an American accent when speaking spanish.  You do.  They know.  Everybody thinks you're an a-hole.

5.  The best time in a foreign city is the early morning.  It's before all the other tourists are up, and the vendors catering to those tourists are up hawking whatever crap they are selling.  It's when the real people get up, and go to the market, and drink a coffee on the street, or are out drying laundry, going to church, making pastries.  The early morning hours, a little bit after first light, are the most memorable time I've ever had anywhere I've ever been.  Here's a picture of me on my first morning in Lisbon, just walking around the city before the city really woke up.

6.  At some point on your trip, you will probably run into other Americans your age.  This is usually about halfway through the trip when you're getting sick of the language barrier between you and the bartender.  If the opportunity arises, make friends with them.  If they are proceeding to get drunk when you meet them, all the better.  Memorable times will ensue.  And it's only 46% likely that they will get you arrested.  See below:

Drinking 40s on the streets Valparaiso, Chile
Oktoberfest with Aussies (ok fine not technically American but the next best thing)

Drinking mojito buckets in a Karaoke bar in Venice, Italy
 7.  If you get a chance, go to a casino.  This is probably because I have a legit gambling problem, but betting at a casino in another country is about as James Bond as you'll ever get in life.  Unless you kill a guy.

8.  Kill a guy.  KIDDING.  But you should rent a car if your travels allow it.  You can take in a country so much better behind the wheel of a car than you could in any other form of travel.  You can stop where you want, get a real feel of the country.  Hell, if you're lucky, you might even get a chance to drive somewhere where everybody drives like a Miami taxi cab driver.  And then you probably WILL kill a guy.

9.  Churches are ok, but the best architectural things to see in any country are not man made.  Cliffs, mountains, oceans, forests.  These are the things you should seek.

10.  And lastly, the most important rule of travel.  Travel with somebody you like.  If they believe in at least 70% of this list, you're golden.  Go with them immediately.

Thus ends the most pretentious post I've ever written.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Patriots are like the Mega Pythons and the Seahawks are the Gatoroids

Yesterday before the Super Bowl, ESPN made a big deal of the fact that this was the first time two quarterbacks drafted by Major League Baseball were competing against each other in the Super Bowl.  And it made me think about all the times they talked about a player that played basketball in college because he could "dunk" the football over the goal post after a TD.  I guess football doesn't translate into other sports as well.  I mean, could you imagine if there as a baseball player who ran over a first baseman because he played "lights out" baseball?  Oh I just remembered another example.  In my highschool we had a guy from the soccer team who became our kicker because the former kicker who's name was Chaz and may or may not have been Indian sucked really bad.  I kind of hoped they replaced him just because his name was Chaz and some things just shouldn't be.  The reverse of that scenario wouldn't work though.  Nobody in soccer would draft a football kicker who's really good at kicking a ball that somebody else holds for him and then fist pumping and trying to get high fives after each kick.  (PS -  Don't ever high five your kicker.  Don't validate him.  Just don't.)

There's so much to talk about, so let's get right to it.  In preparation for my super bowl party, I threw myself into a 6 hour marathon of cooking.  But before any of that could begin, I had to start my day by clearing the 5 inch layer of snow that fell overnight. 

Basically, this:

Became this:

Not clear if the snow shovelers were coming to do their HOA paid duty yesterday, I and a neighbor shoveled pretty much all of the sidewalks in front of my house, while the douchey neighbor across the street with a snow blower just watched.  Hours after the sidewalks were cleared, the people we actually pay to do that job came by and congratulated themselves for not having to work.  Also, because of the snow build up on my satellite dish, the signal on my TV went out.  So I climbed up my POS aluminum ladder, perched so precariously on my down sloping icy driveway, with snow raining down on me as I smacked my satellite dish with a broom.  Considering that the dish is actually a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment that bounces a signal off a satellite orbiting thousands of miles away, I think smacking it with a broom is probably the most effective way to fix it.

Finally, after all these events passed, and copious amounts of coffee were used to warm my insides back up, I got on with my cooking marathon.  The result was tables of entirely too much food for not really enough people.  Of course I was told only days before that I might be hosting for anywhere between 7 and 17 people, so I conservatively made food for 27.  The results were pretty fantastic.

The game itself was one of the better ones in recent years.  A close game punctuated with a crazy last second game defining play, it was everything you could have asked for in a Super Bowl.  Except for the fact that the dirtiest, cheatingest, Palpatiniest team in football won.  But whatever.  At least we had some betting and pinterest inspired jello shots to fuel our game watching.

Anyways, you just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials right?

NOT THIS TIME.  This was the worst round of commercials I've ever seen.  Most of it was because of Nationwide telling us to be better people or our kids will die.  This is pretty much how the game went:

Game - Touchdowns! Interceptions!  Probably a former basketball player dunking a goal post!

Commercial break - Be a better parent.....brought to you by Dove body wash.

Game - Amazing catch!  held them on 4th down!

Commercial break - Seriously.....be a better parent.  cherish your kids.  But not right now because you're watching TV.....brought to you by Avocados from Mexico (best jingle ever)

Game - Score is tied!  28 second comeback run!

Commercial break - I told you to watch your kids.  They just drowned in the bathtub after passing out from the concussion of that TV falling on them while they were eating a Tide gel pack.....brought to you by Nationwide

I didn't talk about the halftime show, because I honestly couldn't give a crap about Super Bowl halftimes.  Who wants to stare at a TV for 15 minutes watching formerly bad singers perform with currently bad singers.  I mean the stage was cool I guess.  And that one uncoordinated shark dancer.  I bet that shark gets its own commercial in the coming year.

Anyways, I'll end this post by letting you know that all of this might not have been possible....the feasting, the partying, none of it.....if I hadn't turned off the TV when this movie for the ages came on.  I may have just binged watched it if I didn't have festivities to prepare for.  Because when life poses these kinds of questions, you have to stop whatever you're doing and ponder them.  In this instance, the question was,

WTF is a Gatoroid?